Project Description

Ray KEENAN was the adopted son of William and Eleanor Keenan, of Glenone, Cape Naturaliste.

William’s father Stewart Keenan from Glenone, near Portglenone, County Londonderry, Ireland, married Isabella (nee Gamble) from nearby Lisrodden, County Antrim, in 1859 and immediately migrated to the Swan River Colony. They initially stayed with James Bovell, one of Isabella’s relatives and a warden at the Fremantle Goal.

After the birth of James, they sailed to The Vasse (Busselton), arriving on New Year’s Day, 1860. William was offered a lease arrangement by John Bussell to manage his sister-in-law’s farming property, Reinscourt, on the Vasse River estuary.

Eliza was born in 1862 and Robert John in 1863. Isabella managed Reinscourt and accumulated enough money to purchase a property on Cape Naturaliste which she called Glenone, and the family moved there in 1869. The number of properties they owned grew as did their family with the birth of Francis Henry in 1871, Mary Ellen (‘Minnie’) in 1874, Isabella (jnr) in 1875, Ann Jane in 1876, Grace Barclay in 1879 and William Stewart (Ray’s adoptive father) in 1881. Stewart died intestate in 1921, as did Isabella in 1829. Robert was granted a Letter of Administration to wind-up their estate.

Ray talks about the dividing up of the estate and the lives of his adopted uncles’ and aunts’ families. William (Ray’s adoptive father) inherited Glenone which he farmed and from which he provided fruit and vegetables to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse.

Both of William’s wives pre-deceased him, and he sold it to J. L. d’Espeissis.

Ray tells of his life growing up on Glenone and recounts details of the aborigines’ knowledge of native foods and remedies found in the area. He talks about the discovery of the Yallingup Cave, tells how deer were introduced and then eradicated from the Karridale-Cape Naturaliste area, recollects an early steamship that was wrecked between Bunker Bay and Eagle Bay and the early ‘dunnies’, including two-seaters.

After the family farm was sold in 1950, Ray became a builder in Dunsborough before he and his family moved on to the Wheatbelt and settled in Perenjori.